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Title: N-induced soil acidification triggers metal stimulation of soil methane oxidation in a temperate steppe ecosystem
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Soil Biology and Biochemistry
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Long‐term soil warming can decrease soil organic matter (SOM), resulting in self‐reinforcing feedback to the global climate system. We investigated additional consequences of SOM reduction for soil water holding capacity (WHC) and soil thermal and hydrological buffering. At a long‐term soil warming experiment in a temperate forest in the northeastern United States, we suspended the warming treatment for 104 days during the summer of 2017. The formerly heated plot remained warmer (+0.39 °C) and drier (−0.024 cm3H2O cm−3soil) than the control plot throughout the suspension. We measured decreased SOM content (−0.184 g SOM g−1for O horizon soil, −0.010 g SOM g−1for A horizon soil) and WHC (−0.82 g H2O g−1for O horizon soil, −0.18 g H2O g−1for A horizon soil) in the formerly heated plot relative to the control plot. Reduced SOM content accounted for 62% of the WHC reduction in the O horizon and 22% in the A horizon. We investigated differences in SOM composition as a possible explanation for the remaining reductions with Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra. We found FTIR spectra that correlated more strongly with WHC than SOM, but those particular spectra did not differ between the heated and control plots, suggesting that SOM composition affects WHC but does not explain treatment differences in this study. We conclude that SOM reductions due to soil warming can reduce WHC and hydrological and thermal buffering, further warming soil and decreasing SOM. This feedback may operate in parallel, and perhaps synergistically, with carbon cycle feedbacks to climate change.

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  2. Microbial communities are known as the primary decomposers of all the carbon accumulated in the soil. However, how important soil structure and its conventional or organic management, moisture content, and how different plant species impact this process are less understood. To answer these questions, we generated a soil microcosm with decomposing corn and soy leaves, as well as soil adjacent to the leaves, and compared it to control samples. We then used high-throughput amplicon sequencing of the ITS and 16S rDNA regions to characterize these microbiomes. Leaf microbiomes were the least diverse and the most even in terms of OTU richness and abundance compared to near soil and far soil, especially in their bacterial component. Microbial composition was significantly and primarily affected by niche (leaves vs. soil) but also by soil management type and plant species in the fungal microbiome, while moisture content and pore sizes were more important drivers for the bacterial communities. The pore size effect was significantly dependent on moisture content, but only in the organic management type. Overall, our results refine our understanding of the decomposition of carbon residues in the soil and the factors that influence it, which are key for environmental sustainability and for evaluating changes in ecosystem functions. 
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